6th December 2023 4:54 pm
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X is suing Media Matters alleging it manipulated the algorithm

  • Media Matters found and highlighted advertising being placed alongside accounts operated by neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers and white nationalists.
  • X has responded by saying Media Matters crafted a timeline to force advertising to appear alongside these accounts in a lawsuit.
  • At the same time X filed its lawsuit, the Attorney General of Texas launched an investigation into Media Matters.

While OpenAI has put its CEO playlist on shuffle, X, formerly Twitter has been engaged in a tussle with media watchdog, Media Matters For America.

In recent weeks Media Matters for America (we’re referring to it as Media Matters from here on out) has highlighted a concerning occurrence of advertising appearing alongside anti-semitic content and other hate speech. Once this was made known, firms such as IBM and Apple pulled their advertising campaigns from X.

“During all of this Musk-induced chaos, corporate advertisements have also been appearing on pro-Hitler, Holocaust denial, white nationalist, pro-violence, and neo-Nazi accounts. Yaccarino has attempted to placate companies by claiming that “brands are now ‘protected from the risk of being next to’ potentially toxic content.’ But that certainly isn’t the case for at least five major brands: We recently found ads for Apple, Bravo, Oracle, Xfinity, and IBM next to posts that tout Hitler and his Nazi Party on X,” Media Matters wrote last week.

However, Elon Musk spent much of the weekend dragging Media Matters over the coals saying that it was trying to topple his platform and was pushing advertisers away on a fraudulent basis.

Now in a lawsuit filed in Texas, X has outlined how it believes Media Matters found this extremist content.

The firm alleges that Media Matters created accounts that followed users who posted extremist content to X as well as big-name advertisers. This led to a feed that placed ads from these big-name advertisers alongside extremist content. In reality, the adverts placed alongside this content were only reportedly seen by one legitimate X account according to X’s lawsuit.

Furthermore, X alleges that Media Matters began to scroll and refresh its account in a bid to manipulate the feed to find the result it wanted.

However, this detracts from what Media Matters is highlighting as it explained late last week.

“The ‘root cause of X having antisemitic content next to Ads’ is that there’s a ton of pro-Hitler, Holocaust denial, white nationalist, and neo-Nazi content on X for the ads to appear alongside,” the watchdog wrote.

Media Matters is not the first organisation to point out how problematic Twitter, now X, has become under Musk’s leadership. The platform infamously adopted a freedom of speech not freedom of reach policy in which content that violates its rules remains on the platform but its reach is limited.

However, Media Matters also recently highlighted that a pro-Hitler and Holocaust denier was being paid by X as part of the platform’s revenue share programme. While that accounts earnings have been dropping, it has earned $3 000.31 to date.

The exodus of advertisers from X then is understandable in light of Media Matters’ reports and the fact that Musk regularly puts his foot in the turdpile by reposting or interacting with anti-semites, conspiracy theorists, and other questionable individuals.

Before the lawsuit was filed Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters said, “Far from the free speech advocate he claims to be, Musk is a bully who threatens meritless lawsuits in an attempt to silence reporting that he even confirmed is accurate. Musk admitted the ads at issue ran alongside the pro-Nazi content we identified. If he does sue us, we will win.”

At the same time, the Attorney General of Texas launched an investigation into Media Matters for potentially fraudulent activity.

We’re not sure how this is going to play out X is surely going to feel these advertisers pulling away as we enter the holiday period.

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Beats include cybersecurity, business, infrastructure, telecommunications, PC gaming and internet culture.

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